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Column 19th January 2022

No new leisure centre so will we get anything?

After many interruptions, this should be the last week that I’m answering the question about what infrastructure is going to be provided to match the huge increase in population in this area

I talked about schools (three primary schools and hopefully a new secondary school).

I discussed the Wantage Eastern Relief Road and the Grove Northern Relief Road and the lack of other road improvements.

I’ve mentioned the lack of connectivity and poor quality of cycleways.

I’ve also covered health services so this week should be improvements in leisure facilities.

There was reference in a 2013 Leisure Report for the District Council, to a survey performed in 2011 which included an assessment of leisure needs.

About half of the respondents had used Wantage Leisure Centre in the 12 months preceding the survey and a strong theme emerged about the need to modernise or refurbish it. Most comments related to the need to improve the pool and the changing facilities.

The plan emerged to build a new Leisure Centre between Wantage and Grove and over £7 million of developer contributions were reserved.

I would assume that this could have been multiplied through grants and lottery funding but in early 2020 the District Council decided that they couldn’t afford to build a new centre and cancelled the project.

In early 2021 a Councillor reported that:

"An independent review of leisure needs across the Wantage, Grove and Faringdon areas is underway to identify exactly what these alternative projects could be and the level of funding required to bring them forward.

"To accelerate this process, engagement will be held with a variety of stakeholders and ward members, to inform the review, which is due to be completed by the end of March 2021. I can assure you that we want to see these funds spent in the areas that generated them and on facilities that the local communities want."

Apparently a new survey was initiated but most of the sports clubs in Wantage and Grove weren’t contacted and the results have not been released. Council staff involved have since left so we appear to be no further forward.

Even the all-weather pitch planned for next to the Leisure Centre in Wantage can’t be built because King Alfred’s School has withdrawn their support.

It seems as though everyone is conspiring to stop the millions of pounds received from and promised by developers being spent for the benefit of residents of OX12.


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